#Mots-clés : “Brick and Mortar” Assistance, (Urban) Decentralization Dernière mise à jour le 9 June 2019


Urban History: Heritage

Source: Fabriès-Verfaillie and P. Stragiotti, La France des Villes: Le temps des métropoles? (Bréal, 2000)

French cities are often very old. Most its present-day cities already existed in Gallo-Roman times. In this period, what mattered was not a city’s population or economic role, but the political role it played in organizing the surrounding countryside. The nineteenth century would contribute a number of mining towns, and the twentieth century so-called “new” (i.e., residential) towns.

Only in the fourteenth century did an urban consciousness begin to emerge: cities became connected to one another and assumed new (economic, cultural, and social) roles.

On the eve of the French Revolution (1789), one out of five Frenchmen lived in a city. In the twentieth century, the urbanization rate had already risen to 25%, reaching 31% in 1931 and 74% in 1990.

Until the nineteenth century, demographic growth resulted primarily from a natural balance, through externally stimulated growth. Technological changes in agriculture triggered a rural exodus beginning in the 1860s. This trend continued and accelerated for nearly a century, until 1975.

Beginning in 1975, another trend emerged: the rural exodus fell from 60% to 30% and migratory movements between cities began to occur. Smaller cities benefited the most from this movement. Around 1982, cities started to contract and peri-urbanization began to occur. This was due primarily to declining fertility, lower levels of immigration, and the decreasing number of inhabitants in the countryside.

Variations between cities are enormous. Some consider that Paris has hypertrophied. It is in this context that the idea that there is a hierarchy of French cities emerged. This belief has, however, become meaningless in light of recent developments.

French cities have experienced two notable transformations: “metropolization” and internationalization. (Source: Cahiers scientifiques du Transport 1995)

By “metropolization,” we mean:

  • Territorial duality: until the sixties, proximity was key to territorial exchanges. This has been changed by new technologies. A city’s importance no longer depends on an inherited hierarchical status, but rather on its involvement in multiple intercity networks.
  • Selective and unbalanced metropolization: cities that are most developed, the densest, and with high-quality transportation benefit from metropolization (as does Paris). Middling cities located in rural spaces suffer from these trends.
  • Is metropolization irreversible? A 1995 study concluded that this trend was irrevocable. Yet a study from 2012 has proven that while some cities continue to grow, others will continue to decline (see below)—something that in 1995 was not yet foreseeable.
  • Metropolization and movement: as elsewhere, the phenomenon of urban sprawl impacts many French cities, affecting between 1975 and 1990 somewhere between 10.7 million to 12 million inhabitants.


According to a 2010 study, between 1975 and 2006, some French cities with more than 50,000 inhabitants are growing while others are in decline. Cities that are growing rapidly are generally located in the southern part of the country. Declining cities are usually old industrial cities located in the Northeast. A growth/decline map.


Main sources: Légifrance website and the AITEC Study, “Face à la crise du logement, comprendre et intervenir” (2009) + Housing Rights Watch.

The right to housing is not specifically included in the French Constitution, although it has been recognised as an “objective of constitutional value”.

Paragraph 11 of the Preamble of the 1946 Constitution states that “All people who, by virtue of their age, physical or mental condition, or economic situation, are incapable of working, shall have the right to receive suitable means of existence from society”. The law of 5 March 2007 institutes an enforceable right to housing.

At European level, France has signed and ratified the revised European Social Charter, accepted article 31 and has also ratified the Additional Protocol providing for a system of collective complaints (although it has not yet made a declaration enabling national NGOs to submit collective complaints for verification). France is also a signatory of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights.

At international level, France has ratified the ICESCR, which guarantees the right to an adequate standard of living, including housing (article 11).

While the right to housing is not formally acknowledged by the French constitution, several national statutes recognize various aspects of this right:

  • Law on the renting relationship (1966): it defined, on the one hand, the renting relationship, and, on the other, the rights and duties of private property.
  • The right to decent housing (the Besson Law, 1990): this law stipulates that “the right to housing is a duty for the entire nation arising from solidarity.” This law does not mean that the nation is obliged to provide housing to anyone who requests it, but rather that it must provide assistance, in conditions defined by the law, to people who satisfy specific conditions. Moreover the SRU (Solidarity and Urban Renewal) law of 2000 clarified the definition of “decent housing” (i.e., minimum livability criteria), in addition to stipulating that in any town of more than fifty thousand inhabitants, 20% of the housing must be public. Information on the SRU Law.
  • Fighting Social Exclusion (1998): This guideline law indicates ways to connect the rights to work, housing, health, and citizenship.
  • An Enforceable Right to Housing (Le Droit Au Logement Opposable, DALO, 2007): This is a procedure for people in difficult situations who have been given priority access to public housing yet who have not received it in a reasonable timeframe. It allows them to protect their housing rights by going before a judge. The judge can order the state to pay a fine until the plaintiff receives public housing. In principle, this law represents an undeniable progress. But its enforcement has been patchy. The “priority” designation is attributed according to vague criteria and is only rarely denied. Enforceable housing rights.
  • The Molle or Boutin Law (2009) is a law for promoting housing and fighting exclusion. It launches a national program for reviving old dilapidated neighborhoods while being attentive to social diversity and the need for energy efficiency. The 2009-2016 program seeks to rehabilitate 60,000 private housing units and to construct 25,000 new public housing units, in addition to creating 5,000 shelter spots (transitional housing).

Reflections on housing rights: AITEC entry in CITEGO.

Evictions from Underprivileged Neigborhoods

France has a procedure for obligatory re-housing when evictions occur. However, it is not always efficient, particularly because there is a shortage of readily available affordable housing.

Re-housing is obligatory when evictions occur because of insecurity or danger: mayors supervise these procedures, but very strict rules require the leasing proprietor to suspend the lease and rent payments for the duration of repair work (if the health hazards are considered fixable) and to re-house the household should it be required to leave its home. Article L521-1 of the Building and Residency Code.

Interesting Practices

  • “One percent for housing” (“le 1% logement”): This practice was first implemented in 1953. Historically, it involved asking companies with more than twenty employees to contribute financially to the public housing sector. At present, this one percent accounts for only 0.45% of housing. It primarily finances urban renewal projects that have been carried out in public housing neighborhoods since the sixties. Currently, the one percent also finances the acquisition of real estate property serving to finance employee retirement funds.
  • Rent freezes in the event of relocation (2012): The goal of this measure is to limit the rent of new tenants, in order to temper inflationary surges. It applies to only areas prone to skyrocketing property values.
  • The MOUS Insalubrities Procedure (“MOUS” = Maîtrise d’Oeuvre Urbaine et Sociale): This is a social engineering procedure which is intended to fight unacceptable housing conditions (along with the previous measures). Its ambition is to identify insalubrious situations in the private housing stock (by making tools available) and to organize actors in particular locations to find solutions.
  • The IGLOO France program: Its goal is to train project owners to promote projects that satisfy two goals: access to housing and access to employment. It does so in a comprehensive way that involves the active participation of families. Numerous actors can carry out such projects. This program often supports innovative initiatives like guided self-building. IGLOO website.
  • The “Maisons Relais” (“Relay Homes”): Since 2002, this measure has made it possible to create communal homes (with a maximum of 25 housing units) for underprivileged individuals suffering from solitude and who already have a long history in institutional housing. In addition to the project’s convivial dimension, it is interesting to note that guests and guest-couples are required to be present for a minimum amount of time to ensure that the houses operate properly. Maison Relais in LilleDGAS/SDA circulary n°2002-595


(Primary source: AITEC, “Face à la crise du logement : comprendre et intervenir,” 2009)

The Housing Market


Since the late nineties, there is once again talk in France of a housing crisis. It is the result of two shortcomings, in housing construction and household solvency. The upshot is that it is hard to find decent housing; more and more people are poorly housed or homeless; and evictions are on the rise.

According to AITEC, this phenomenon is related to the state’s withdrawal, since the seventies, from its role as the housing market’s regulator. The state no longer performs its anti-speculative role (notably by investing in “brick and mortar subsidies”). It has also been unable to anticipate the market’s real needs (like a strong demand for small affordable housing units). The Abbé Pierre Foundation has reached a similar conclusion.

Moreover, this trend is accentuated by the growing financialization of public housing under pressures from the European Union. Public housing companies (HLMs) now defer to shareholders and are inclined to privatize public housing through patrimony sales.

In 2007 (according to the INSEE), average monthly rent for public housing is 2.84 euros per square meter. On average, the French spend 9,000 euros annually per housing unit on housing. Yearly increases in housing costs exceeded 3% between 2003 and 2007, leveling off beginning in 2007 thanks to lower energy expenses. However, increases on the private rental market remain enormous. The average increase is 3.2% annually. To this figure must be added those of energy costs which, since 2007, are on average: 5,700 euros for public housing tenants; 7,700 euros for private tenants; and 10,700 euros for proprietors.


France is one of the European countries with the lowest share of homeowners. The European Union’s average is 65%, whereas in France the number is 57% (these numbers are from the 2012 CECODHAS report). However, the percentage of owners is on the rise: in 1987, they consisted of only 54.1%. 22% rent on the private market and 17% on the public housing market. 4% living in furnished housing or sub-let.

The Government’s Role

Public authorities play two major roles in the realm of housing: providing public assistance through financial intervention and regulating the housing market.


Since the fifties, assistance programs have been aimed at construction, rehabilitation, rent aid, and accession to homeownership.

  • On the one hand, one finds assistance for housing providers: “brick and mortar subsidies”; advantageous rates (such as zero interest rates); tax benefits (VAT at 5.5% instead of 19.6% in 2009).
  • On the other, one finds assistance for housing consumers (tenants): 1977 was a turning point in French policy in this respect. France went from a system of “brick and mortar” assistance to a mixed system based on “brick and mortar” and individual assistance. This policy was rooted in a Keynesian conception of society: giving people access to housing was a way of supporting purchasing power and thus consumption. Growing economic difficulties and the explosion of the housing market have led to a dramatic rise in public spending of this kind. In 2009, no less than six million households received such assistance. The vast majority were tenants.

The pros and cons of a system of individual assistance continue to be the subject of debate among associations fighting for housing rights. According to AITEC, individual assistance calls the entire system into question. It raises the issue of the efficacy of providing the most vulnerable populations with access to housing, their supposed inflationary effect (on the housing market), and the lack of a socially-oriented counterpart. Moreover, the expansion of this assistance has resulted in decisions that are very disadvantageous for households, as the government has made it harder to obtain such assistance in order to limit spending.


  • REGULATION OF THE RENTING RELATIONSHIP: The goal is to arbitrate and strike a balance between the rights and duties of tenants and proprietors, on the private as well as the public rental market. A 1989 law requires leases to last at least three years and to be tacitly renewed. Proprietors can recuperate their units in some cases, but only with six month notice. Leases are freely set at signing, but subsequently can rise only at a natural rate. A new procedure (2013) for freezing rents at the time of relocation (in certain areas and when major work has not occurred) could make it possible to limit rent increases. This procedure has proved controversial.
  • The regulation of real estate markets: Since the decentralization projects of the 1980s, local governments have been responsible for managing urbanization and of providing affordable real estate. To do so, they can create Local Urbanization Plans (PLUs), which define real estate and urban policies in their jurisdictions. Local governments also issue building, allotment, and demolition permits.


Affordable housing companies (Sociétés d’habitation à bon marché, or HBM) were first created in 1894. They were private initiatives, created primarily by employers concerned about the living conditions of their factory hands. Only in 1928, however, did the state begin to involve itself in public housing.

Definition and situation in 2012

Social housing provision in France is housing provided by ‘HLM’ organisations, which are specific actors entrusted by the state to fulfil a mission of general interest (where HLM stands for Habitation à Loyer Modéré – organisations providing housing at moderated rents). The social housing sector in France accounts for about 17% of the stock. It is a specific sector of the housing market, which is governed by legislative and regu- latory provisions, separate from common law and regulated by the Construction and Housing Code (Code de la Construction et de l’Habitation, CCH). The provision of social housing includes construction, development, allocation, and management of rented social housing as well as of dwellings for social home ownership.

How does it work ?

French social housing is built and managed by HLM organisations, as well as to a lesser extent by semi-public enterprises (Société d’économie mixte, SEM) and some non-profit associations. Providing the biggest part of the social housing stock, HLM or- ganisations include both publicly and privately owned com- panies acting on a non-profit basis and under the control of the Ministry of Housing and Finance..

Access to social housing is limited by income ceilings, which are set at the national level by specific regulation and vary according to the area were the dwelling is located as well as the number of household’s components. Income ceilings are set at a level which virtually includes a large proportion of the population to be accommodated in social housing allowing for a certain degree of socio-economic mix. Nevertheless, over the past three decades the sectors has seen a constant increase in the proportion of poor households, with currently 35% of all HLM households on incomes below the poverty line. Furthermore, the Law on the Right to Housing (commonly referred to as DALO) introduced in 2007, establishes priority access for bona fide ap- plicants in the following 6 categories: homeless; people at risk of eviction who don’t have the possibility of finding another ac- commodation; people with temporary accommodation; persons in unhealthy or unfit accommodation; households with children in overcrowded or indecent dwellings; disabled. The law allows for people to seek for legal redress vis-a-vis the local authority in case their request for an accommodation is not answered.

Source : CECODHAS Report 2012

HLM vivienda pública – sitio Marianne2 Jueves Negro – colectivo se pone en cuclillas edificios desocupados HLM vivienda pública – Megan Smith

The Homeless and the “Poorly Housed”

In 2008, 3.3 million people were poorly housed or homeless. Six million people were in a genuinely precarious situations.

In January 2002, INSEE (the French national statistics organization) undertook a study of the homeless. It confirmed that more than 200,000 people are homeless in France, to which, it assumed, must be added between 5,000 and 10,000 people living in squats or who have no contact with shelters. Source: FEANTSA’s European Network.

According to the 2012 Report on poor housing by the Abbé Pierre association, the situation is even more alarming: nearly 700,000 people lack their own home and nearly 3,000 people live in very difficult housing circumstances (including travelers). If one adds “poor” homeowners, who live in overpopulated housing or who cannot collect rents, the report counts more than 8 million individuals who are poorly housed or vulnerable to the housing crisis.

In 2005, France experienced a crisis in its suburbs: each month, each night, acts of vandalism, such as car burnings, were committed. This highly symbolic episode was a moment when French citizens and politicians become conscious of suburban malaise occurring against the backdrop of a housing crisis and high unemployment.

Special Housing Measures for Youth

France has social workers who deal specifically with youth housing: the FJT (Foyers de Jeunes Travailleurs, or Young Work Residencies), which were created in 1945 after the Second World War to foster working-class education. In 2006, this association became the UNHAJ (Union Nationale pour l’Habitat des Jeunes, or National Union for Youth Habitat). It is interesting to note that the problem of youth housing (for the 16 to 30 age bracket) has been on the agenda since the war. This national organization assists young people in their search for housing, but it has also built adapted housing.

Cultural, Religious, and Symbolic Dimensions

Ecological Dimensions


In 1996, a group of architects founded an association based on the concept of high environmental quality: The HQE website. They assist project managers in obtaining environmental efficiency certificates (which indicate that a building consumes little energy, particularly for heating).

Since 2000, the French government has issued new thermal regulations designed to reduce energy consumption in buildings. France is committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions to one fourth by 2050. In 2002, a National Habitat Plan aimed at sustainable construction defined the guidelines for this transition. This includes “brick and mortar” assistance, as public housing companies are expected to participate in the effort. During the 2007 French environment summit (“Grenelle de l’Environnement”), a bill was proposed defining energy efficiency in buildings. Beginning in late 2012, all new buildings must meet the new “low consumption” norm. Since 2012, the Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development, and Energy (le Ministère de l’Ecologie, du Développement durable et de l’Energie, or MEDDE) is responsible for these measures.


For a number of years, many towns have undertaken the implementation of Local Agenda 21s. The goal is to integrate the principle of sustainability and territorial development, while also incorporating a broad range of public and private actors and residents.

The French AGENDA 21 website | National observatoy of local Agenda 21s

An example of Agenda 21 in Lille


The 2010 French environment summit created an advisory council for the environment and energy control. It was created to help local actors complete their projects. This agency can grant financial assistance to a wide range of social actors working to achieve sustainable development. The agency’s website.



  • 3.6 million people are poorly housed or homeless; in addition to the homeless, one must include individuals living in makeshift housing, hotel rooms, staying involuntarily with family and friends. Also included are those living in unsuitable or overpopulated housing. The difficult situation of travelers deserves special mention.
  • 5 million people live in genuinely precarious circumstances (unpaid rents, with all this implies in terms of eviction risks; young people obliged to live with their parents, etc.).
  • 1.2 million households are on public housing waitlists.
  • 3.8 million households have difficulty meeting their energy needs.
  • Too little attention is given to these problems and data is too infrequently updated.

AITEC, FAPIL , DAL , NO-VOX , LDH , ACDL-GRESYL, AFVS in their contribution to the 2011 DESC Platform:

  • The private rental stock is less and less affordable for low-income and middle class households, because: income for these households has risen two times less quickly than housing costs; owners are making increasing demands on future tenants with few resources; and individual assistance has declined.
  • There is an assault on public housing. New constructions (“brick and mortar” assistance) have declined. Public housing no longer meets the needs of people facing difficulties. Public housing policy must adjust itself to respond to European injunctions (see above). Finally, chains of responsibility have become confused due to the fact that decentralization (from the state to local government) has yet to be completed.
  • Housing rights lie at the heart of contradictory government policies: enforceable housing rights (DALO) are misleading due to discriminatory regulations (requiring that one have a prior residence) and delays in enforcing re-housing.
  • There is an illusion and a risk in the idea of a “homeowners’ France”: assistance for acquiring property is aimed primarily at the middle class, while the living conditions of poorer households experimenting with homeownership are deteriorating.
  • Urban segregation: urban renewal policies are forcing the inhabitants of these neighborhoods to leave.
  • The reform of housing shelters is in question: resources are lacking and the principle of unconditional housing is regularly challenged.
  • Health threats and unacceptable housing: procedures are too time-consuming or inefficient and proprietors manage to avoid them. Furthermore, they can do nothing for illegal immigrants living in unacceptable housing.
  • Housing discrimination: discrimination, including legal discrimination, exists for migratory populations, such as travelers or residents in overseas territories.



Wants residents cooperatives to be recognized and to enjoy special fiscal measures.


Proposes a social contract for housing, organized into four commitments, the third of which is: “To build an equitable and sustainable city.”

  • Create new rental housing units that are genuinely social and which ensure that all public assistance has a social component.
  • Make rent more affordable in the private housing market and generalize the tax on vacant housing.
  • Regulate rents on the private market, particularly following a move; define the conditions that would reduce excessive rents; and control real estate prices at all levels of production.
  • Improve the coverage of individual housing assistance, notably by establishing an “energy shield” for low-income households.
  • Generalize the practice of early and mandatory warnings of unpaid rent as a way of preventing evictions; and set aside some public housing in the private stock for underprivileged households in towns that lack sufficient public housing.
  • Eradicate 600,000 unacceptable housing units by supporting proprietors who undertake renovations and penalizing lessors acting in bad faith.
  • Require that 25% of the housing stock be public housing (cf. the SRU law); and systematize the creation of areas of social urban diversity.
  • Reform real estate taxes by creating an urban solidarity contribution that would correct where necessary inequalities between neighborhoods and urban areas.
  • Re-launch urban renovation in working-class residential areas by strengthening the social character of these projects.
  • Create organizational and regulatory authorities for habitat and housing; work to make the poorly housed as well as all citizens genuine participants in local politics.
Poor housing – 25000 people in mobile homes – site RFI Poor housing – Family Tents – Site DAL Poor housing report for 2008 – Fondation Abbé Pierre

AITEC, FAPIL , DAL , NO-VOX , LDH , ACDL-GRESYL, AFVS in their contribution to the 2011 DESC Platform:

  • Have housing recognized as a right (rather than a good, from the standpoint of sustainable development in cities and in an equitable way for the territory as a whole)
  • Regulate real estate, housing, and rental markets through differential taxation based on market differences; ending inflationary excesses; overhauling rent calculations in public housing companies.
  • Promoting the construction of public housing and improving their distribution across the territory
  • Ensure a reasonable level of redistribution (through a balance between “brick and mortar” assistance and individual assistance and by reviewing tax measures favoring investment in rental properties).
  • Emphasize control over urban and real estate development, which should not depend solely on the laws of the market.
  • Urban renewal: avoid gentrification and demolitions of public housing favoring the private sector.
  • Guarantee the resources to fight against unacceptable housing.
  • No evictions without re-housing!
  • Create emergency shelter space.
  • Improve governance: create local organizing authorities in which responsibilities are clearly assigned.
  • Fight discrimination: welcome migratory populations and travelers; implement the requisition law.


  • THE ABBE PIERRE FOUNDATION = A foundation that offers assistance and solidarity to the underprivileged to avoid the downward spiral that leads to the loss of one’s home, solitude, and so on. Its activities consist in creating inexpensive and lasting housing with manageable energy costs. In addition to lobbying, the Foundation helps build public housing, runs daytime reception centers in city centers, helps the poorly housed to find housing, supports activities promoting international solidarity, and organizes against slums. WebsiteContact them.
  • EMMAUS SOLIDARITE = An association founded by the Abbé Pierre offering shelter and social support for the homeless. This includes seeking them out in the street, in keeping with the slogan: “from the street to life.” Emmaüs centers exist across France, offering housing, assistance, and first aid. Their primary goal is to fight isolation by offering the homeless, in addition to shelter, employment as well as cultural and health-related activities.Emmaüs websiteContact them
  • Droit Au Logement – DAL = An association created by the homeless and poorly housed. It maintains that the power relationship brought to bear by collective action is essential to fighting housing-related exclusion. Its activities are non-violent and must not endanger families. It fights for an end to evictions, decent and adapted re-housing, and the enforcement of the requisition law relating to vacant buildings. DAL introductory videoDAL website – – They may be contacted through their website.
  • FAPIL (Fédération des Associations et des Acteurs pour la Promotion et l’Insertion par le Logement) = A network of association, social economy unions, and cooperative societies working for the right to housing adapted to specific needs. Its goal is to establish housing rights for all: receiving and advising; adapted rental management for ordinary and temporary housing units; stimulating a diverse supply of buildings; interventions in cooperatives that find themselves in difficult situations; and the establishment of local partnerships. FAPIL websiteContact them
  • PACT-ARIM = A national network of associations serving individuals and their habitat. Its goal is to improve and rehabilitate housing in order to ensure decent living conditions for all, to fight the housing crisis, and to promote cohesion and social diversity across urban and rural spaces. Their activities include: rehabilitating housing and putting it up for rent; providing needed social support; and proposing activities that promote social cohesion. PACT-ARIM websiteContact them
  • HABICOOP = A federation of residents cooperatives (for tenants and owners) that fight social exclusion and speculation while providing spaces for developing life projects. The association contributes to the legal and financial organization of projects, organizes international gatherings, and offers its own “toolkit.” HABICOOP websiteContact them.
  • La fédération nationale des SAMU sociaux (“National Federation of Social Ambulances”) = A federation that organizes initiatives and subsidies based on the “social ambulance” model described in its charter. “Social ambulances” are roaming services that seek out people in the street or experiencing serious hardship while respecting their desires. Its activities include: social monitoring; advice on emergency shelters and adapted housing; and psychological, medical, and social services. Fédération des SAMU websiteContact them
  • FNARS (Fédération Nationale des Associations d’Accueil et de Réinsertion Sociale) = A broad network uniting associations and public organizations offering reception centers and services. Its activities include: emergency assistance via mobile teams; shelters and housing centers; re-housing services and social support; training centers; social integration programs; health centers; community service work for the former inmates; and various family services. FNARS websiteContact them
  • UNAFO (Union Professionelle du Logement Accompagné) = A national union grouping together managers of public housing, immigrant worker residencies, family boarding houses, shelters, youth housing, CADA, “diffuse” housing, etc. Its activity consists in federating member organizations; proposing advice, support, and training on assisted housing; and in developing partnerships and getting good professional practices recognized. UNAFO websiteContact them
  • AITEC (Association Internationale de Techniciens, Experts et Chercheurs) = A network of professionals, scholars, and citizens working for social progress. Among other goals, they analyze and propose alternative urban projects, including those relating to housing (seminars, workshops, experience exchanges, and publications). Their approach is to compare the perspective of experts with those of activists. They are involved in the international solidarity movement. One noteworthy publication is: “Droit au Logement et droit à la ville” (“The Right to Housing and the Right to the City.” “Droit au Logement et droit à la ville”(“The Right to Housing and the Right to the City.”). AITEC websiteContact them.
  • ARCHITECTES DE L’URGENCE = A foundation based in France, Switzerland, Australia, and Canada, which offers its expertise to catastrophe victims. It provides two kinds of on-the-ground activities: emergency action that seeks to assess the risks incurred by populations in order to keep them safe, notably in terms of buildings. It is also involved in post-catastrophe reconstruction efforts (rebuilding and re-housing displaced persons) while being attentive to offering training and using local products. WebsiteContact them
  • UNHAJ (Union Nationale pour l’Habitat des Jeunes) = This union supports young people (ages 16 to 30) they become socialized and promotes their conscious yet critical integration into society. Their members receive, inform, and advise young people on acquiring autonomous housing (CLLAJ); provide communal housing (social and young worker residencies); and offers services related to employment, health, transportation, and leisure. UNHAJ WebsiteContact them
  • UNAFAM = National association supporting and advising families in which a family member faces psychological problems. It is, among other things, concerned with housing individuals suffering from mental illness. UNAFAM WebsiteContact them
  • COORDINATION ANTI-EXPULSIONS = A network of committees created to protest the destruction of working-class neighborhoods, including public housing. It identifies committees in each city and offers a “toolkit.” Its blogContact them here or here
  • HABITAT ET HUMANISME = A building association founded in 1985 that recognizes the centrality of housing to social integration. Their activities include: facilitating access to housing, notably in city centers; supporting individuals in ways that make them autonomous actors; offering space in family boarding houses; promoting solidarity savings; and challenging public policy. WebsiteContact them.
  • LES COMPAGNONS BATISSEURS = An association promoting education for the underprivileged, which operates as a network seeking to improve housing and promote economic integration. Concretely, it proposes self-rehabilitation and assisted self-building workshops for tenants as well as proprietors. In this way, people in difficulty receive real professional qualifications. They also welcome and train young volunteers. Website – Contact them through their website.
  • HALEM = “Residents of Ephemeral or Mobile Homes” (“Habitants de logements éphémères ou mobiles”). The goals of this association include: promoting by all possible means the recognition of ephemeral and mobile housing, as well as such fundamental rights as the right to subsistence and access to real estate; promoting material, moral, and legal solidarity in order to obtain recognition for a wide variety of habitats, guaranteeing the right to housing and a freely chosen lifestyle; supporting installation projects and defending, non-violently and after careful analysis, threatened individuals and locations. Website.
  • COORDINATION ANTI-DEMOLITION DES QUARTIERS POPULAIRES = A coordinating committee for residents organizations across France that are affected by urban renewal projects and especially by the demolition of public housing. Blog.
  • AGIR CONTRE LE CHOMAGE ET LA PRECARITE! (AC!)= AC! is a network of local groups and a movement grouping together the unemployed, the underprivileged, employees, and supporting organizations that are fighting unemployment and the increasing precariousness of society as a whole. One website and another.
  • COMITE DES SANS LOGIS = This committee of the “un-housed” is France’s main association for the homeless, organized by current and former homeless people. Blog
  • CENTRE VILLE POUR TOUS (Marseille) = Fighting policies for rehabilitating buildings in Marseilles, the primary effect of which is to deny the most underprivileged populations the right to live in city centers, the association promotes the right to information, the right to housing (including active support for residents living in shockingly precarious and unhygienic housing sold by “sleep merchants”), and collective action directed at political leaders. Website.